We are often afraid of our anger, that feeling anger means we should be guilty. But what have you done by feeling it? Nothing. Feeling is not doing.
We frequently get feeling and acting mixed up as though feeling angry means we have been aggressive. Let’s get a few things straight. Anger is a feeling and aggression is an action or words. One is interior (anger), and the other is exterior (aggression).
The feelings we have are a normal part of being a human being. They are a physiological response we have to experience and so are an integral part of relating with other people, the world around us and our own inner experience.
Take for example, the sadness we have when we lose a person we love in death. This is a normal reaction and not something pathological. We grieve because we have lost someone we loved. The grief is an indicator of the depth of love in us for that person. In this way sadness is to be welcomed because as painful as it is, it is never the last word. Love is.
Often when we have lost someone in death there is also anger toward the loved person. So we feel sadness and anger and love, all mixed in or one after the other in close succession. This can be confusing and cause guilt in us as if we are being unfaithful to the person by being angry with them. We feel what we feel – no judgment. It just is. if you feel angry about them leaving you in death or for any other reason then that is what you feel. Once you feel it deeply enough you can get to the bottom of why you feel angry. Just give yourself enough time to feel all of it without loading it up with judgments.
Keep it simple. Feelings are OK because they are a natural process we experience as much as breathing is a natural process. Feelings are like our emotional skin to the world.
If we let feelings be themselves, feelings will come and go. I often hear people say (as a justification for not crying) “If I start I won’t stop”. This is not sadness talking, it is anxiety. Anxiety that you will be out of control if you let yourself feel sad. So we avoid it. This has the makings of depression if we sit on our feelings and won’t let them be felt.
This brings me to my last point. Experiencing is not expressing. This is the difference between anger and aggression. Anger is an experience, and aggression is an expression of the angry feeling. I am encouraging you to experience rather than express your anger or whatever other feelings you have
Notice in yourself how you relate with your own feelings. How much anxiety do you have about experiencing (not expressing) your feelings? Give yourself close attention so you notice the physical experiences that make up your feelings. This means practicing self-monitoring, or self-observation. If you don’t do it naturally, you may have to learn to do it by practicing is regularly, daily and just notice your inner sensations. What do I feel right now?